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Could your belly prevent you from getting a job?

Aug. 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM ET

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A body mass index above 25 can hinder your chances of getting a job, research shows.

Just land a job interview? When it comes to getting hired, your body size may play a bigger role than your resume, suggests new research from Bowling Green State University.

After grad school applicants went through in-person interviews, candidates with a body mass index north of 25 -- the typical cutoff point between "normal" and "overweight" -- were 27 percent less likely to score an admission invite than their trimmer co-applicants. Researchers conducted the same experiment using phone-only interviews, and found no difference in admission rates between heavy or slim candidates. (Americans think the body mass index can tell them if they're at a healthy weight -- but they're wrong. Check out Men's Health's report on The Truth about BMI.)

It's possible some interviewers have built-in prejudices against overweight applicants -- call it the fat bias -- who they may (unconsciously) view as lazy or undisciplined because of their size, says study coauthor Jacob Burmeister. If that's the case, there's not much you can do but drop weight or clean up your style, which may help offset unfair weight stereotypes.

But don't blame the interviewer just yet. It's also possible overweight candidates perform poorly during interviews because their weight saps their confidence or makes them uncomfortable, Burmeister adds. Whether or not you're overweight, spending a few minutes pre-interview thinking about a time when you kicked butt and were in control can boost your odds of landing the job by 81 percent, says a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (Discover the 4 Mistakes That May Cost You the Interview.) 

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